tv President Obama Holds Final News Conference CSPAN January 18, 2017 8:01pm-9:01pm EST
admitted to the houston methodist hospital this morning as a precaution after experiencing fatigue and coughing. in other news, the senate armed services committee approved retired general james mattis to be defense secretary today code-6-one. his nomination will be sent to the full senate for a vote. now, president obama gives his final press conference. plans,e about his future friday's inauguration of donald trump, and his decision to commute the sentence of chelsea manning.
president obama: i was sorely tempted to wear a tan suit today in my last press conference. but michelle, whose fashion sense is better than mine, tells me that is not appropriate in january. i covered a lot of the ground i would want to cover in my farewell address last week. so i'm just going to say a couple quick things before i take questions. first, we have been in touch with the bush family today after hearing about president george h.w. bush and barbara bush being admitted to the hospital this morning. they have not only dedicated their lives to this country, they have been a constant source of friendship and support and good counsel for michelle and me over the years. they are as fine a couple as we know. and so we want to send our prayers and our love with them. really good people.
the second thing i want to do is to thank all of you. some of you have been covering me for a long time. folks like christie and lynn. some of you i have just gotten to know. we have traveled the world together. a few singles, a few doubles together. i have offered advice i thought was pretty sound, like, don't do stupid stuff. and even when you complained about my long answers, i just want you to know that the only reason they were long is because you ask six part questions. but i have enjoyed working with all of you. it does not mean i've enjoyed every story that you have filed. but that's the point of this relationship. you're not supposed to be sycophants, you're supposed to be skeptics and ask me tough questions. you are not supposed to be
complementary. you are supposed to cast a critical eye on folks that hold enormous power. and make sure that we are accountable to the people who sent us here. and you have done that. you have done it, for the most part, in ways that i can appreciate your fairness even if i didn't always agree with your conclusions. and having you in this building has made this place work better. it keeps us honest and makes us work harder. it made us think about how we are doing what we do and whether or not we are able to deliver on what has been requested. for example, every time you have asked why haven't you cured ebola yet, or why is there still that whole -- hole in the gulf?
i can go back to my team and say, we get this solved before the next press conference? i have spent a lot of time in my farewell address talking about the state of our democracy. it goes without saying that, essential to that is a free press. that is part of how this place, this country, this grand this country, this grand called government experiment has -- grand experiment called government has to work. it doesn't work if we don't have a well-informed citizenry. and you are the conduit through which they receive information about what is taking place in the halls of power. america needs you and democracy needs you. we need to establish, based on the facts, to be used as a starting point for the informed debates that ultimately lead to progress. my hope is that you will continue with the same tenacity
that you showed us, to do the hard work of getting to the bottom of stories and getting them right. to push those of us in power to be the best version of ourselves. and to push this country to be the best version of itself. i have no doubt you will. i look forward to being an active consumer of your work rather than being the subject of it. i want to thank you for your extraordinary service to our democracy. with that, i will take questions. i thought your term was us going i will start with jeff mason. you're going to hang around for a while. >> are you concerned, mr. president, that commuting chelsea manning's sentence will send the message that leaking classified material will not generate consequence and how do
you reconcile that in light of wikileaks and russia's hacking? related to that, julian assange has offered to come to the united states. are you seeking that? would he be charged or arrested? president obama: well, first of all, let's be clear, chelsea manning has served a tough prison sentence. so the notion that the average person who was thinking about disclosing vital classified information would think it goes unpunished i don't think would get that impression from the sentence that chelsea manning has served. it has been my view that, given
she went to trial, that due process was carried out, that she took responsibility for her crime, that the sentence that she received was very disproportionate relative to what other leakers have received, and that she had served a significant amount of time, that it makes sense to commute, and not pardon, her sentence. i feel very comfortable that justice has been served and a message has still been sent that when it comes to our national security, wherever possible we
need folks who may have legitimate concerns about the actions of government or their superiors or the agencies in which they work, that they try to work through the established channels and avail themselves of the whistleblower protections that have been put in place. i recognize there are some folks who think there are not enough. i think all of us working in big institutions may find ourselves at times at odds with policies that are set. but when it comes to national security, we are often dealing with people in the field whose lives may be put at risk, or the safety and security and the ability of our military or intelligence teams or embassies to function effectively. and that has to be kept in mind. so with respect to wikileaks, i don't see a contradiction.
first of all, i have not commented on wikileaks generally. the conclusions of the intelligence community with respect to the russian hacking were not conclusive as to whether wikileaks was waiting -- witting or not in being the conduit through which we heard about the dnc e-mails that were leaked. i don't pay a lot of attention to mr. assange's tweets, so that wasn't a consideration in this instance. and i refer you to the justice department for any criminal investigations, indictments, extradition issues that may come up with him. what i can say broadly is that in this new cyber age, we are going to have to make sure that we continually work to find the right balance of accountability
and openness and transparency that is the hallmark of our democracy, but also recognize that there are adversaries and bad actors out there who want to use that same openness in ways that hurt us. whether that is in trying to commit financial crimes or trying to commit acts of terrorism or folks who want to interfere with our elections. and we are going to have to continually build the kind of architecture to make sure the best of our democracy is preserved, that our national security and intelligence agencies have the ability to carry out policy without advertising to our adversaries what it is we are doing, but do
so in a way that still keeps citizens up to speed on what their government is doing on their behalf. but with respect to chelsea manning, i looked at the particulars of this case the same way i have the other commutations and pardons i have done, and i felt that in light of all the circumstances, that commuting her sentence was entirely appropriate. margaret brennan. there you are. reporter: thank you. the president-elect has said he would consider lifting sanctions on russia is a substantially reduced stockpiles. given your own efforts at arms control, do you think that is an effective strategy, knowing mr. trump, how would you advise his advisers to be effective when he deals with vladimir putin. and given your actions recently on russia, do you think those sanctions could be leveraged? president obama: well, a couple of things. number one, i think it is in
america's interests and the world's interest that we have a constructive relationship with russia. that has been my approach throughout my presidency. where our interests have overlapped, we have worked together. at the beginning of my term i did what i could to encourage russia to be a constructive member of the international community, and try to work with the president and the government of russia in helping them diversify their economy, improve their economy, use the incredible talents of the russian people in more constructive ways. i think it is fair to say that after president putin came back into the presidency, that an escalating anti-american rhetoric and an approach to
global affairs that seemed to be premised on the idea that whatever america is trying to do must be bad for russia, so we want to try to counteract whatever they do, that returned return to an- adversarial spirit that i think existed during the cold war has made the relationship more difficult. and it was hammered home when russia went into crimea and portions of ukraine. the reason we imposed the sanctions, recall, was not because of nuclear weapons issues. it was because the independence and sovereignty of a country, ukraine, had been encroached upon by force by russia.
that wasn't our judgment, that was the judgment of the entire international community. and russia continues to occupy ukrainian territory and meddle in ukrainian affairs and support military surrogates who have violated basic international law and international norms. what i've said to the russians is as soon as you stop doing that, the sanctions will be removed. and i think it would probably best serve not only american interests but also the interests of preserving international norms if we made sure that we don't confuse why these sanctions have been imposed with a whole set of other issues. on nuclear issues, in my first term we negotiated the start ii treaty and that has substantially reduced our
nuclear stockpiles, both russia and the united states. i was prepared to go further. i told president putin i was prepared to go further. they have been unwilling to negotiate. if president-elect trump is able to restart those talks in a serious way, there remains a lot of room for our countries to reduce our stockpiles. part of the reason we have been successful on our nonproliferation agenda and a nuclear security agenda is because we were leading by example. i hope that continues. but i think it is important just remember that the reason sanctions have been put in place against russia has to do with their actions in ukraine, and it is important for the united states to stand up for the basic principle that big countries don't go around and invade and bully small countries. -- smaller countries. i said before, i expect russia and ukraine to have a strong relationship.
they are historically bound together in all sorts of cultural and social ways. but ukraine is an independent country. and this is a good example of the vital role that america has to continue to play around the world in preserving basic norms and values, whether it is advocating on behalf of human rights, advocating on behalf of women's rights, advocating on behalf of freedom of the press. the united states has not always been perfect in this regard. there are times when we by necessity are dealing with allies or friends or partners who themselves are not meeting the standards that we would like to see met when it comes to international rules and norms. but i can tell you that in every multilateral setting in the united nations, g 20, g seven, the united states has typically
been on the right set of the issues, and it is important for us to continue to be on the right side of the issues, because if we, the largest, strongest country and democracy in the world, are not willing to stand up on behalf of these values, then certainly china and russia and others will not. reporter: thank you, mr. president. you have been a strong supporter of the idea of a peaceful transfer of power, demonstrated not terribly far from here in the rose garden. and yet even as you and i speak, there are more than 5000 -- five dozen democrats are going to boycott the inauguration of the incoming president. do you support that? and what message would you sent to democrats to better demonstrate the peaceful
transfer of power? and if i could follow, i want to ask you about your conversations with the president-elect previously and without getting too much into the personal side of it, i'm curious, were you able to use that opportunity to convince him to take a fresh look at some of the important ideas that you will leave this office with -- maintaining some semblance of the affordable care act, some idea of keeping dreamers here in the country? were you able to use personal stories to convince him, and how successful were you? president obama: well, i won't go into details on my conversations with president-elect trump. as i said before, they were cordial. at times they have been fairly lengthy and they have been substantive. i can't tell you how convincing i have been. you would have to ask him whether i have been convincing or not. i have offered my best advice,
counsel, about certain issues both foreign and domestic. and my working assumption is that having won an election opposed to a number of my initiatives, and certain aspects of my vision for where the country needs to go, it is appropriate for him to go forward with his vision and his values. and i don't expect there is going to be enormous overlap. it may be on certain issues come -- issues, once he comes into office and looks at the complexities of how to provide health care for everybody, something he says he wants to do, or wants to make sure that he is encouraging job creation
and wage growth in this country, that that may lead him to some of the same conclusions i arrived at. but i don't think we will know until he has an actual chance to get sworn in and sit behind that desk. and i think a lot of these views are going to be shaped by his advisors, the people around him, which is why it is important to pay attention to these confirmation hearings. i can tell you that -- this is something i have told him, that this is a job of such magnitude that you can't do it by yourself. you are enormously reliant on the team. your cabinet, your senior white house staff, all the way to fairly junior folks in their 20's and 30's, but who are executing on significant responsibilities.
and so how you put a team together to make sure that they are getting you the best information and they are teeing up the options from which you will ultimately make decisions, that is probably the most useful advice, the most constructive advice i've been able to give him, that if you find yourself isolated because the process breaks down, or if you are only hearing from people who agree with you on everything, or if you haven't created a process that is fact-checking and probing and asking hard questions about policies or promises you have made, that is when you start making mistakes. and as i indicated in some of my previous remarks, reality has a way of biting back if you are not paying attention to it. with respect to the inauguration, i'm not going to
comment on those issues. all i know is i am going to be there. so is michelle. i have been checking the weather and i am heartened by the fact that it will not be as cold as my first inauguration. [laughter] president obama: because that was cold. reporter: thank you very much. you said you would come back for the dreamers, you said that a couple weeks ago. are you fearful for the future of the young immigrants and all immigrants in the country with a new administration, and what did you mean when you said you would come back? maybe explore the political arena again? if i may ask a second question, why did you take action a week ago? president obama: to be clear, i did not mean i would be running for anything anytime soon. what i meant was it is important for me to take some time to
process this amazing experience we have gone through, to make sure that my wife, with whom i will be celebrating our 25th anniversary this year, is willing to re-up and put up with me for a little bit longer. i want to do some writing. i want to be quiet a little bit and not hear myself talk so darn much. i want to spend precious time with my girls. so those are my priorities this year. but as i said before, i'm still a citizen, and i think it is important for democrats and progressives who think they came out on the wrong side of this election to be able to distinguish between the normal
back-and-forth ebb and flow of policy -- are we going to raise taxes or lower taxes, expand this program or eliminate this program? how concerned are we about air pollution or climate change? those are all normal parts of the debate. as i said before, in a democracy sometimes you are going to win on those issues and sometimes you are going to lose. i'm confident about the rightness of my position on a lot of points, but we have got a new president and congress that will make their same determinations, and there will be a back-and-forth in congress around those issues, and you guys will report on all that. but there is a difference between that normal functioning of politics and certain issues
or certain moments where i think our core values may be at stake. i put in that category if i saw systematic discrimination being ratified in some fashion. i put in that category explicit or functional obstacles to people being able to vote, to exercise the franchise. i put in that category institutional efforts to silence dissent or the press. and for me at least, i would put in that category efforts to
round up kids who have grown up here and for all practical purposes are american kids and send them someplace else. when they love this country, they are our kids' friends and their classmates, and are now entering into community colleges or in some cases serving in our military, the notion that we would just arbitrarily, or because of politics, punish those kids when they didn't do anything wrong themselves i think would be something that would merit me speaking out. it doesn't mean that i would get on the ballot anywhere. with respect to wet foot, dry foot, we underwent a monumental
shift in our policy towards cuba. my view was after 50 years of a policy not working, it made sense for us to try to reopen diplomatic relations to engage a cuban government, to be honest with them about the strong disagreements we had around political repression and treatment of dissenters and freedom of press and freedom of religion. but to make progress for the cuban people, our best shot was to suddenly have the cuban people interacting with americans, and seeing the incredible success of the cuban-american community, and engaging in commerce and business and trade, and that it was through that process of opening up these bilateral relations, that you would see
over time serious and significant improvement. given that shift in the relationship, the policy that we had in place with wet foot, dry foot, which treated cuban emigres completely different from folks from el salvador or guatemala or nicaragua or any is other part of the world, one that made a distinction between whether you got here by land or by foot, that was a carryover of an old way of thinking that didn't make sense in this day and age, particularly as we are opening up travel between the two countries. we had a very lengthy consultation with the department of homeland security.
we had tough negotiations with the cuban government. but we arrived at a policy we think is both fair and appropriate to the changing nature of the relationship between the two countries. nadia. reporter: i appreciate the opportunity and i want to wish you and your family the best of luck in the future. president obama: thank you. reporter: mr. president, you have been criticized and even personally attacked for the united nations resolution that considers israeli settlements illegal. mr. trump appointed ambassador that is not believe in the two tate solution? how worried are you about the u.s. leadership in the arab world and beyond? will this ignite a third intifada? will it protect israel? should they hold israel more accountable like bush, sr., did?
president obama: i am -- i continue to be significantly worried about the israeli-palestinian issue. and i'm worried about it both because i think the status quo is unsustainable, that it is dangerous for israel, that it is bad for palestinians, it is bad for the region, and it is bad for america's national security. i came into this office wanting to do everything i could to encourage serious peace talks between israelis and palestinians. we invested a lot of energy, a lot of time, a lot of effort, first year, second year, all he way into last year.
ultimately, what has always been clear is that we cannot force the parties to arrive at peace. what we can do is facilitate, provide a platform, encourage. but we can't force them to do it. but in light of shifts in israeli politics and alestinian politics, a rightward drift in israeli politics, a weakening of president abbas' ability to ove and take risks on behalf of peace and palestinian territories, in light of all
the dangers that have emerged in the region, and the understandable fears that israelis may have about the chaos and rise of groups like isil and deterioration of syria, in light of all those things, what we at least wanted o do, understanding that the 2 bodies wouldn't actually arrive t a final status agreement, is preserved the possibility of a two state solution, because we do not see an alternative to it. and i have said this directly o prime minister netanyahu. i've said this inside of israel. i said this to palestinians as well. i don't see how this issue gets resolved in a way that maintains israel as both jewish and a democracy. because if you do not have to
states -- 2 states, you are in some form or fashion extending an occupation. functionally you end up having one state in which millions of people are disenfranchised and operate as second-class occupants -- residents. you can't even call them citizens necessarily. so the goal of the resolution was to say that the settlements, the growth of the ettlements, are creating a reality on the ground that increasingly will make a two state solution impossible. and we believed consistent with the position taken with previous u.s. administrations of decades now that it was important for us to send a signal, a wake-up call, at this moment may be passing -- that this moment may be passing. an israeli voters and palestinians need to understand this moment may be passing. nd hopefully that then creates a debate inside both israeli nd palestinian communities
that won't result immediately in peace, but at least will lead to a more sober assessment of what the alternatives are. o the president-elect will have his own policy. the ambassador, or the candidate for the ambassadorship, obviously has very different views than i do. that is their prerogative. that is part of what happens after elections. and i think my views are clear.
we will see how their approach plays itself out. i don't want to project today what could end up happening. but obviously, it is a volatile environment. what we have seen in the past is when sudden unilateral moves are made that speak to some of the core issues and sensitivities of either side, that can be explosive. and what we have tried to do in the transition is just provide the context in which the president-elect may want to make some of these positions. reporter: are you worried -- [inaudible] president obama: well, that is part of what we have tried to indicate to the incoming team in our transition process is pay attention to this, because this is volatile stuff. people feel deeply and passionately about this. as i have said i think many times, the actions that we take have enormous consequences and ramifications. we are the biggest kid on the block. and i think it is right and
appropriate for a new president o test old assumptions and re-examine the old ways of oing things. but if you are going to make big shifts in policy, just make sure you thought it through, and understand there are going o be consequences, and actions typically create reactions. and so you want to be ntentional about it. you don't want to do things ff-the-cuff. chris johnson? reporter: lgbt rights, there have been a lot of achievement, including marriage equality ationwide.
don't ask, don't tell repeal. how do you think lgbt rights will rank in terms of your legacy? how confident are you that this will continue under the president-elect? president obama: i could not be rouder of the transformation that has taken place in our society just in the last ecade. and i have said before, i think we made some useful contributions to it, but the rimary heroes in this stage of our growth as a democracy and as a society are all the individual activists and sons and daughters and couples who courageously said, this is who
i am, and i am proud of it. that opened people's minds and opened their hearts. and eventually, it was caught p, but i do not think any of that would have happened ithout the activism, in some cases loud and noisy, but in some cases just quiet and very ersonal. and i think that what we did as an administration was to help the society to move in a better irection but to do so in a way that did not create an enormous acklash and was systematic and respectful of the fact that,
you know, in some cases these issues were controversial. i think the way we handled on't ask don't tell, being methodical about it, working with the joint chiefs, making sure that we showed this would not have an impact on the effectiveness of the greatest military on earth, and then to have defense secretary bob gates and chairman mike mullen and the joint chiefs who were pen to evidence and, ultimately, worked with me to do the right thing, i am proud of that. but again, none of that would have happened without this incredible transformation that was happening in society. in know, when i gave ellen the presidential medal of freedom, i meant what i said.
i think somebody that kind and likable projecting into living rooms around the country, you know, they changed attitudes, and that was not easy to do for her, and that is just one small example of what was happening in countless communities across the country. o i am proud that in certain places we maybe provided a good block downfield to help the ovement advance. i don't think it is something that will be reversible, because american society has changed, the attitudes of young people, in particular, have changed.
that does not mean there are not going to be some fights that are important. legal issues, issues surrounding transgender persons. there are still going to be some battles that need to take place. but if you talk to young people, malia, sasha's generation, even if they are republicans, even if they are conservative, many of them will tell you i don't understand how you would discriminate against somebody because of their sexual orientation. that is a sort of burned into them and pretty powerful ways. april? reporter: thank you, mr. president. long before today, you have been considered -- [inaudible]
under your watch, people have said you have expanded the rubber band -- [inaudible] with the election of the incoming administration, some say the rubber band is recoiling. may be is even broken. i think about being on air force one going to alabama, and you said you said your job is to close the gaps that remain. hat gaps still remain, and what part will you play in fixing those gaps in your new ife? you were the first black president. o you expect this country -- [inaudible] president obama: i think we're going to see people of merit rise up from every race, faith, corner of this country, because that is america's strength. when we have everybody getting chance and everybody on the
field, we end up being better. i think i have used this analogy before. e killed it in the olympics in brazil, and michelle and i, we always have the olympic team here. it is a lot of fun. first of all, just because anytime you are meeting somebody that is the best at nything, it is impressive. and these, mostly very young people, are all just so healthy looking, and they just beam and exude fitness and health, so we have a great time talking to hem. but they are of all shapes, sizes, colors -- the genetic diversity on display is emarkable. and if you look at simone biles and then you look at a michael
phelps, they are completely different, and it is precisely because of those differences that we have got people here ho can excel at any sport. and, by the way, more than half of our medals came from women, and the reason is it that we had the foresight several to -- decades ago with something called title ix to make sure that women got opportunities in sports, which is why our women compete better, because they had more opportunities than olks in other countries. i use that as a metaphor, and f, in fact, we continue to keep opportunity open to everybody, then yeah, we're going to have a woman president, a latino president, a jewish president, a hindu president. who knows who we are going to have.
i suspect we will have a whole bunch of micked up presidents at some point that nobody really knows what to call them. [laughter] and that's fine. what do i worry about? i obviously spent a lot of time on this, april, in my farewell address on tuesday, so i will not go through the whole list. i worry about inequality, because i think if we are not investing in making sure everybody plays a role in this economy, the economy will not grow as fast, and i think it will also lead to further and further separation between us as americans, not just along racial lines. there are a bunch of folks who voted for the president-elect because they feel forgotten and disenfranchised. they feel they are being looked down on and as if their kids are not going to have the same
opportunities as they did. and you do not want to have an america in which a very small sliver of people are doing really well and everybody else is fighting for scraps, as i aid last week. that is, often times, when racial divisions get magnified. because people think, well, the only way i am going to get ahead is if i make sure somebody gets less, somebody that does not look like me or does not worship the same way i do. that is not a good recipe for a democracy. i worry about making sure that the basic machinery of our democracy works better. we are the only country in the advanced world that makes it arder to vote, rather than
easier. and that dates back. there is history to that that we should not be shy about talking about. i am talking about voting rights, yes. there is a reason that we are the only country among advanced democracies that makes it harder to vote, and it traces directly back to jim crow and the legacy of slavery. and it became sort of acceptable to risk the -- restrict the franchise, and that is not who we are. it should not be who we are. that is not when america works best. so i hope that people pay a lot of attention to making sure that everybody has a chance to vote. make it easier, not harder. this whole notion of voting fraud -- this is something that has constantly been disproved. this is -- fake news. the notion that there are whole bunch of people out there who
are not eligible to vote and want to vote. we have the opposite problem. we have a whole bunch of people who are eligible to vote who do not vote. so the idea that we put in place a whole bunch of barriers to people voting does not make sense. and as i said before, political gerrymandering makes your vote matter less because politicians have decided you live in a district where everybody votes the same way you do, so these are not competitive races and we get 90% democratic districts, 90% republican districts. that is best for our democracy, too. -- bad for our democracy too. i worry about that. i think it is very important for us to make sure that our criminal justice system is fair and just, but i also think it is also very important to make sure that it is not politicized, that it maintains an integrity that is outside of
partisan politics at every level. i think at some point we're going to have to -- and this will require some action by the supreme court -- we have to re-examine just the flood of endless money that goes into our politics, which i think is very unhealthy. so there are a whole bunch of things that i worry about. as i said in my speech on tuesday, we got more work to do on race. it is not -- it is simply not true that things have gotten worse. they have not. things are getting better, and i have more confidence on racial issues in the next generation than i do in our generation or the previous generation. i think kids are smarter about it. they are more tolerant. they are more inclusive than we
are. and hopefully my presidency maybe helped that along a little bit. but you know, when we feel stressed, when we feel pressure, when we're just fed information that encourages some of our worst instincts, we tend to flood back into some of the old racial fears, racial divisions, racial stereotypes, and it is very hard for us to break out of those and to listen and to think about people as people and imagine being in that person's shoes. by the way, it is no longer a black and white issue alone. we have got hispanic folks and asian folks.
this is not just the same old battles. we got this stew that is bubbling up from people everywhere, and we're going to have to make sure that in our own lives, families, and our workplaces, that we do a better job of treating everybody with basic respect and understanding that not everybody starts off in the same situation and imagining what it would be like if you were born in an inner-city and had no job prospects anywhere within a 20-mile radius, or how does it feel being born in some rural county where there are no job opportunities in a 20-mile adius?
seeing those two things as connected. so we have got work to do, but overall, i think on this front the trendlines ultimately will be good. christi parsons. you are going to get the last western. -- question. you know, i have been knowing her since springfield, illinois. when i was a state senator, she listened to what i had to say. so the least i can do is give her the last question as president of the united states. reporter: thank you, mr. president. it has been an honor. i have a personal question for you, because i know how much you like this. the first lady put the stakes of the 2016 election and very personal terms in a speech that resonated across the country, and she spoke to concerns of a
lot of women, lgbt folks, eople of color, many others, so i wonder now how you and the first lady or talking to your daughters about the meaning of this election and how you interpret it for yourself and or them. president obama: you know, every parent brags about their daughters or their sons. you know, if your mom and dad do not brag on you, you got problems. [laughter] but, man, my daughters or something, and they just surprise and enchant and impress me more and more every single day as they grow p.
o these days, when we talk, we talk as parent to child, but lso, we learn from them. and i think it was really interesting to see how malia and sasha reacted. hey were disappointed. they paid attention to what their mom said during the campaign and believed it because it is consistent with what we have tried to teach them in our household and what i have tried to model as a father with their mom and what we ask them to expect from future boyfriends or spouses. but what we have also tried to teach them is resilience, and we have tried to teach them hope and that the only thing
that is the end of the world is the end of the world. and so you get knocked down, you get up and brush yourself off, and you get back to work. and that tended to be their ttitude. neither of them intend to pursue a future of politics, and in that, too, i think their mother's influence shows. [laughter] but both of them have grown up in an environment where i think they could not help but be patriotic, to love this country deeply, to see that it is flawed but see that they have responsibilities and that they -- responsibilities to fix it and that they
need to be active citizens, and they need to be in a position to talk to their friends and teachers and future coworkers in ways that try to shed some light, as opposed to just generate a lot of sound and ury. and i expect that is what they are going to do. they do not -- they don't ope. and what i really am proud of them -- but what makes me proudest about them is they also do not get cynical about it. they have not assumed because their side didn't win or because some of the values they care about do not seem as they are communicated, that automatically america has
somehow rejected them or rejected their values. i do not think they feel that way. i think they have, in part through osmosis, in part through dinnertime conversations, appreciate the fact that this is a big complicated country, and democracy is messy and does not always work exactly the way you ight want. but if you are engaged and involved, then there are a lot more good people than bad in this country. and there is a core decency to this country. and they have to be a part of lifting that up, and i expect they will be. in that sense, they are representative of this generation that makes me really optimistic. i have been asked -- i have had some off the record conversations with some journalists that have said, ok, you seem like you are ok, but really, what are you thinking?
[laughter] nd i've said, no, what i am saying really is what i think. i believe in this country. i believe in the american people. i believe that people are more good than bad. i believe tragic things happen. i think there is evil in the world. but i think that, at the end of the day, if we work hard and if we are true to those things in us that feel true and feel right, that the world gets a little better each time. that is what this presidency has tried to be about, and i see that in the young people i have worked with. i could not be prouder of them. and so this is not just a matter of no drama obama. this is what i really believe.
it is true that behind closed doors i curse more. than i do publicly. [laughter] and sometimes i get mad and frustrated, like everybody else does. but at my core, i think we're going to be ok. we just have to fight for it, work for it, and not take it for granted, and i know you will help us do that. thank you, press corps. good luck. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] >> health and human services secretaryin